WASHINGTON — Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (IN-03) introduced legislation called the American Tech Workforce Act today that would stop Big Tech’s exploitation of the United States’ immigration system to disadvantage American workers and drive down wages. The bill is part of a Republican Study Committee initiative to hold Big Tech accountable.
“Big Tech is setting aside some of the most lucrative and valuable career opportunities in America and giving them exclusively to foreign guest workers,” said Banks. “They’re cutting out Americans to save a few bucks. It’s domestic outsourcing. This shocking disregard for American workers and their role in our nation’s future is unpatriotic. We must fix Big Tech’s incentives, so they begin putting Americans first.”
In 2019, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, and Apple were 6 of the top 8 initial approval recipients of H-1B visas. This group has been at the top of the approved recipients’ pool since at least 2014. These companies are interested in workers with H-1B visas because they can pay them less—60% of H-1B visa positions are assigned wage levels well below local median wages. Not only do American workers lose out on jobs given to these visa holders, but they also have to be willing to be given lower wages as well.
The American Tech Workforce Act is designed to create a new incentive structure to increase wages and favor the hiring of Americans. The bill does three things:
- Creates a wage floor for H-1B visas set at the higher of the annual wage last paid to an American worker who filled the position or $110,000 (adjusted for inflation).
- Creates a true marketplace where eligible visa applications are awarded based on the highest bidder.
- Eliminates the Optional Practical Training program that allows certain foreigners that came to the U.S. under a student visa and have graduated to work in the U.S. for up to three years if they have a STEM degree and allows their employers to avoid paying payroll taxes on the visa-holder’s wages.
- Limits the ability of Big Tech firms to contract with third-party companies to fill spots with H-1B recipients sponsored by the third-party company by limiting the maximum validity period of the visas to 1 year.
Read the full bill here.
Original Cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Mary E. Miller (IL-15), Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), Eric A. “Rick” Crawford (AR-01), Steven M. Palazzo (MS-04), Kevin Hern (OK-01), Austin Scott (GA-08), Michael Burgess (TX-26), Joe Wilson (SC-02), Dan Meuser (PA-09), Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01)
The American Tech Workforce Act is supported by American Principles Project (APP), the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and NumbersUSA.
Please find statements from FAIR and NumbersUSA below:
“The American Tech Workforce Act includes several key recommendations outlined in FAIR’s Immigration Reform Blueprint for the American Worker and we are thrilled to support it. The bill corrects some glaring flaws in the H-1B program, which has had a severely detrimental effect on the job opportunities and wages of American workers. It also ends Optional Practical Training (OPT), a program that allows Big Tech companies to hire foreign students over American students after they graduate. Remember, immigration policymaking should not be solely focused on border security, but also on protecting American workers from unfair competition. Congressman Jim Banks understands this and we commend him for his leadership on the immigration issue,” said RJ Hauman, Director of Government Relations and Communications, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)
“NumbersUSA applauds Chairman Jim Banks and the Republican Study Committee for introducing the American Tech Workforce Act of 2021. This bill would bring common-sense reform to the H-1B program, end the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, and give American workers and recent college graduates a fair chance at a job at the wages they deserve.
“For decades the Executive Branch has abused its authority to provide Big Tech and other employers an express lane to cheap foreign labor at the expense of taxpayers and American college graduates, many of whom are burdened with student loan debt. OPT and later creations like STEM OPT put American graduates last in line for highly competitive and lucrative jobs, and even provide a tax break to employers that hire through the program instead of hiring American workers. What began as a pure creation of the Executive Branch without statutory authorization has rapidly grown into one of the largest guestworker programs in the United States. It’s past time for Congress to put an end to the program and reassert its constitutional role in the immigration system.
“Similarly, Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have recognized for years that the H-1B program, designed to bring in the ‘best and the brightest to fill job vacancies in high-skilled sectors, is actually a pipeline for Big Tech to undercut the labor market with cheap foreign labor. Like the OPT program, an entire industry has risen up to exploit loopholes in the law to pad the pockets of CEOs in Silicon Valley at the expense of American workers.
“The American Tech Workforce Act of 2021 would end OPT and put American workers and the rule of law first. In addition, Chairman Banks’ legislation would help ensure that Big Tech companies can no longer use the H-1B program as a cheaper alternative to hiring American workers, which would also protect foreign workers who are too often exploited by unscrupulous employers. This bill is an opportunity for all Representatives to make clear that they stand with American workers,” said Rosemary Jenks, Director, Government Relations, NumbersUSA.